I’d dined at the Bread Street Brasserie before on a weeknight, as they always have vegan options on their regular menu, but tonight was busier as it was their monthly vegan evening. The high ceilings and beautiful light fittings made for a lovely ambiance.
The restaurant is attached to the Hilton hotel and very centrally located. We met friends there who are new to Edinburgh and, although not vegan themselves, were keen to try out the special menu. Between us we sampled almost everything on offer.
The waitress kindly pointed out the vegan wines available, all from Fair Horizon vineyard in the Western Cape. Although there was a Sauvignon Blanc, a Pinot Rose and a Cab- Petit Verdot to choose from, I went with a soft drink as I was driving and the blokes sampled a very pleasant bottle of vegan lager called Edinburgh Gold. (It’s worth noting that all their bottled products are vegan friendly, but their cask ones are not, using as they do the dreaded isinglass.)
We were served bread with vegan butter and as soon as one of our friends asserted that she was gluten free, some gf bread was produced with a flourish. The entire menu on this particular evening was gluten free, so there was a brilliant range of options not only for vegans and the lactose intolerant, but for celiacs too.
To start I had the lightly charred asparagus spears and, although somewhat minimalist, it was a tasty appetiser with a lovely sesame dressing. My fellow diners were equally impressed with both the nettle and spinach soup (which we nicknamed ‘spiky soup’) and the watercress, orange and avocado salad.
The soup was a brave choice for one who had only been stung by nettles while out running and never eaten the things. It was a pleasant surprise to find out they were not just for assaulting one’s knees when out wearing shorts, but could be harvested to be made into something pretty yummy.
Our friends both opted for the red lentil and spring vegetable-stuffed roast peppers for their main, while my other half chose the leek and chestnut mushroom pie. I picked the steamed cauliflower with cashew ‘cheese’ sauce as, not only do I think the cauliflower is a much maligned vegetable and demand needs to be encouraged, but I’m a sucker for cheese fakery. I wasn’t disappointed.
Cries of ‘yum’ emanated from our table, not least from me. The portions were delicate, but the taste was fantastic. Each plate of food was beautifully presented and at £17.50 for three courses, I’d say it was a bargain.
The dreadful news came as we were about to order our desserts. They had run out of chocolate nut lava cake. What to do? It had been so popular that we were just too late to sample any. Still, with two other options, all seemed well. My hubby went for the tangy rhubarb sorbet.
I don’t know about you, but when I imagine sorbet, I think of a somewhat icy, bitter experience unless you’re somewhere that specialises in desserts, and even then it often has to be loaded with fruit to save it from being really boring. Well, the Bread Street Brasserie just tore up the rule book. It was the creamy, sweet, flavourful dessert that vegans so often have to miss out on, and the portion was generous.
Myself and the others decided to be even more adventurous and try the quinoa and banana pudding. I’ll be honest, I’d never have though to put quinoa in a pudding and I was somewhat apprehensive. But do you know what? It worked. It really worked and all three of us tucked in with gusto. In the end we were all almost glad the chocolate cake was missing, as it would have stopped our voyage of very pleasant discovery.